Wine Talk

Snooth User: wineboy19

Do you believe agriculture is a part of being human?

Posted by wineboy19, Mar 18, 2011.

Have we as homo sapiens sapiens always been dependent on agriculture since the beginning of our species? 

I am conducting a personal study on prehistory and would like to know your honest opinions and your factual knowledge on our existence to gain a better understanding overall. 

-wineboy19

Replies

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Reply by GregT, Mar 19, 2011.

WTH? 

Yes.  For factual knowledge, we have been dependent since the beginning of our species.  I vaguely remember those days but it was a pretty long time ago.  About  200,000 years ago homo sapiens diverged from whatever else was around, including Australopithecus afarensis.  I always thought the breakup was a little sad really. 

Anyhow, now free from our knuckle-walking habits and in possession of the hitherto underused opposable thumb, first thing we did was invent the tractor.  Of course, it was invented for tractor pulls but you know those homo sapiens sapiens - always adapting their stuff to new uses and before you know it, they figured out that with those tractors, they could plow fields and plant corn to make biofuels.  So they went looking for corn, discovered the rest of the world, and then civilization happened. Thus, I guess you'd have to say we have always been dependent on agriculture.

That's my honest opinion anyway. 

Here's a pic of our friend Australopithecus afarensis.  I don't know, maybe it's just me but I think she's kind of hot.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Mar 19, 2011.

Agriculture started the first time someone returned to a bucket of fruit juice, found that it fermented, and said, "That's good."  The flavor and the mood altering aspects both appeal to a very basic part of our brain.  But to reliably ferment stuff, you can't just leave it out, because the other animals will drink it before it's ready.  So fermentation was the reason we settled down in one place rather than remaining hunter gatherers--clonal selection of the fruit to ferment, and control over its possession.  For that matter, fermented juice and grain is probably the beginning of notions of property.

Enough wine or spirits, and even autralopithecus is looking pretty hot.

 

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 19, 2011.

Greg, you're off by about a digit in your timeline.

Wineboy, ever heard of 'hunting-gathering' societies?

Agriculture and animal husbandry was the start of modern history and culture as we know it. Ur and all those places, then Egypt and China. The greater portion of human history took place long, long before that.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Mar 20, 2011.

And how will human history end, D? My prediction:  compared to the dinosaurs (a term we use to suggest stupid, unadapable creatures), we will be a blip on the radar screen of time compared to their aircraft carrier sized imprint.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Mar 20, 2011.

They had to wait for a meteor to come along.  We, on the other hand, are capable of making the tools of our own demise.  And seem entirely too ready to do so.

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Reply by GregT, Mar 20, 2011.

Goodness this thread has taken a morbid turn!!!

D - I'm off by a digit?  The pinky? I thought the oldest bones were about 200,000 years - is that wrong?

Fox - I do believe you're talking about the beginnngs of vinification, right? Agriculture may have come a little earlier. Although maybe not - maybe they found some fermenting grapes and just ate those - who knows?  At any rate, it was once thought that agriculture appeared after the last ice age, now they're thinking even before that, but it's relatively late in the development of homo sapiens. 

The stupidity of the species however, seems in fine form. This is one of the best conversations I've ever heard in my life.  Took place at a farmer's market where the farmer in question was selling his blueberries. On  his t-shirt was a logo that said: "Without the Farmer, There Is No Food."

A girl comes up to him and asks how far out of the city he lives.  He says about 200 miles.  She remarks "Oh. Well apparently you haven't been to one of our supermarkets."

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Mar 20, 2011.

GregT:  I think agriculture might predate vinification/fermentation, but I think civilization coincides with it.  In other words, early man might have planted seeds, left the area, come back to harvest in season, but once we started manufacturing our food--changing it beyond throwing it into a fire--we had to settle down to keep an eye on it.  And to prevent our neighbors from drinking our fermented grain beverages.

I have absolutely no training in anthropology to support this.  I was able to determine that Lucy = 3.2  million years ago. 

I'll try to steer clear of morbid stuff. I still think we'll be a blip compared to dinosaurs. 

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, Mar 21, 2011.

It would be interesting to know when we moved from mere hunters and gatherers to cultivators? 

Accounting only started in 1494 when Luca Pacioli developed double entry bookkeeping, it took Enron to develop multiple entry  bookkeeping to almost destroy it.

But then again Texan Republicans may well also be responsible for the end of the world one day?

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Reply by napagirl68, Mar 24, 2011.

Ahh... great subject..  SH put it perfectly when he said, "It would be interesting to know when we moved from mere hunters and gatherers to cultivators".  I will have to ask my History major son next time we visit.

To answer OP, my guess is no. Agriculture is the ARTIFICIAL cultivation of plants, animals, etc.  It is PLANNED.    I would think earliest humans were opportunistic... very animalistic in many ways.  Not at all what you'd call an Agrarian society!  I would think that step from "reacting" to "planning" happened at different times for different areas/regions of the earth, and was a gradual reacting/learning process.  And yes, interesting to know when, why, and how. 

What I do believe now is that industrialization of the western world has ruined most foods.  Most "convenience" foods (including canned and frozen) are over-processed, over-sugared, over-salted, chemically-bastardized, and tasteless at best.  At best, they are making us fat.  At worst, they are spawning the diabetes/heart disease rampage that has, for the first time to my knowledge, hit our children so very young.  What a racket this money maker is!  Of course we are not starving like the poor souls in Africa, but are we better off?

Sorry... Ok, stepping very carefully off of my soapbox now.  Here's a sweet smile and curtsey- forgive my rant please.

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Reply by GregT, Mar 24, 2011.

Wait a minute.  I thought Lucy was a hominid, but not homo sapiens sapiens, which is a line that decended from her?  She was Australopithecus afarensis, wasn't she? 

Fox - in your model, the development of agriculture also led to the development of war because if you stayed in one place to watch your seeds grow and someone else came to gather them up, you'd be POd.  And if you think of European history, that makes sense because the nomads from the east - Scythians, Huns, Magyars, Mongols, etc., kept coming after the settled, agricultural places.  The fuel of alcoholic beverages of course, made those invasions so much more fun, so maybe agriculture, war, and alcohol all worked together to get us to where we are today?  Now we can just enjoy those frozen dinners NapaGirl is so fond of and we need not club our neighbors over the head to take theirs.  Some of my neighbors need to be whacked with a spiked club for other reasons, but that's a different topic.

 


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